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house Bill H.R. 1607

Reforming How the VA Treats Mental Health Conditions Brought On by Sexual Assault

Argument in favor

This bill would improve VA treatment of vets who were sexually assaulted while they served our country. This bill acknowledges that sexual assault happens in the military, and ensures that survivors can get the help they need.

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09/22/2015
“where every veteran who defends this nation gets the quality health care and benefits they have earned and receives the respect they deserve.” [politico.com]
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BarackObama's Opinion
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09/22/2015
“As a country, we have a sacred obligation to serve you as well as you served us.” [thehill.com]
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DonaldTrump's Opinion
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09/22/2015
"John McCain has nothing, nothing for the veterans." [dailycaller.com]
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Argument opposed

Congress needs a more comprehensive solution to deal with military sexual assault. The VA deals with the aftermath — which is necessary, but the military needs reforms that will prevent assault in the first place.

Levi's Opinion
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09/23/2015
I wouldn't trust the VA with a foam water noodle let alone someone's mental health problems. Let's instead give veterans healthcare so they can see doctors they are comfortable with.
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Marines1994's Opinion
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12/13/2016
I trust the VA with nothing, especially this
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Jeanne's Opinion
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10/28/2015
Women should not be in combat. We don't need more laws. Individuals who are guilty of rape should be prosecuted under existing laws.
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What is House Bill H.R. 1607?

This bill would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to reform how the VA provides mental health care to veterans who claimed that their condition was caused by sexual assault during active duty.

In all cases where a veteran makes such a claim, the VA would be directed to:

  • Accept a diagnosis by a mental health professional along with the professional’s opinion that the mental health condition was caused by the assault during their time in the military. This would be taken as satisfactory evidence even if there’s no official record of the assault occurring.

  • Any issue of reasonable doubt would be resolved in favor of the veteran, though the service-connection aspect of the claim could be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.

Covered mental health conditions would include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, or any other mental health diagnosis that the VA determines is related to military sexual trauma.

For each year between 2016 and 2020, the VA would be required to provide a report to Congress on claims for covered mental health conditions that were submitted.

This bill — the Ruth Moore Act — is named after a woman who joined the Navy and was raped twice by her supervisor. After being assaulted, she suffered from PTSD, depression, attempted suicide, and became homeless. She has also had to struggle with the VA for more than 23-years before she was finally able to collect disability benefits.

Impact

Veterans who submit claims covered by this legislation, mental health professionals, the VA, Congress.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1607

A current CBO cost estimate is unavailable. However, the CBO did estimate in May 2013 that implementing this legislation would reduce spending by $15 million over the 2014-2023 period, while costing about $4 million between 2014-2018.

More Information

Of Note: Roughly 20,000 service members are sexually assaulted every year, and as many as 500,000 have been assaulted over the last 50 years.

In-Depth: This bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), notes

“The sexual assault of someone who has volunteered to serve and defend this country is a crime and shouldn’t be tolerated. But when it happens we have to do everything we can to make sure the survivor gets the benefits they deserve. To do that we need to change the way these claims are treated at the VA.”

similar version of this bill was passed unanimously in the House in June 2013 but failed to receive a vote in the Senate.during the 113th Congress.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Kenny Holston 21)

AKA

Ruth Moore Act of 2015

Official Title

To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the disability compensation evaluation procedure of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for veterans with mental health conditions related to military sexual trauma, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
  • The house Passed July 27th, 2015
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs
      Health
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
    IntroducedMarch 25th, 2015

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    “where every veteran who defends this nation gets the quality health care and benefits they have earned and receives the respect they deserve.” [politico.com]
    Like (59)
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    “As a country, we have a sacred obligation to serve you as well as you served us.” [thehill.com]
    Like (29)
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    "John McCain has nothing, nothing for the veterans." [dailycaller.com]
    Like (28)
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    "Our servicemembers and military families contribute so much to our country - we owe them the best." [elizabethwarren.com]
    Like (18)
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    “It’s time to get it done now.” [twitter.com/VP]
    Like (11)
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    This is a necessary step towards providing veterans with more options and access for help with the traumatizing effects of sexual abuse within the institution.
    Like (4)
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    I wouldn't trust the VA with a foam water noodle let alone someone's mental health problems. Let's instead give veterans healthcare so they can see doctors they are comfortable with.
    Like (3)
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    “The entire system needs to be simplified, reformed and refocussed on its most important mission—to ‘care for those who shall have borne the battle." Read more at http://time.com/4000398/jeb-bush-veterans/
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    Because it's a real problem. Watch Invisible War.
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    My mother is a 20 year veteran of the USAF with PTSD MST. Not only is her VA care lacking in general, but there's no care for her particular form of trauma. Every time she has to go to the El Paso VA, she gets sick just thinking about going through the security check, just inside the clinic. There are a few women security officers, but not enough so that when one is requested for "wanding," they are always able to provide one. On top of that, all of them men involved in security are large and, by nature of their position, imposing. That's just one way that I see her suffer years after being taken advantage of because she held a lesser rank than a few men who felt they were entitled to things that were never theirs. There is little concern for sexual trauma in the VA system and I see it on a constant basis.
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    This is only a start. The military needs systemic changes to prevent sexual assault as does our education system.
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    It's only humane.
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    We can't afford to ignore the epidemic of rape, particularly in our military. Soldiers are willing to risk their life, physical and mental health on our behalf. The least we can do is help protect them from the predators within their own ranks.
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    Common sense...
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    "Unlike @RealBenCarson, I am working with vets across the country on a plan that is worthy of their service and sacrifice."[twitter.com]
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    She is a crook
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    It cuts spending by 15 mil and only spends 4 mil. (Unless I am reading it wrong) that gives us 11 mil more to do other stuff with like Paying the Debt.
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    Yes, this needs improvement, but equal focus should be given to the reasons and causes for the astronomical increase in military related sexual assaults. We can focus on the symptoms to the point where we lose sight of the causes responsible for the necessity of improving responses to begin with. Speaking frankly, we really should not expect anything different when we deport God and import homosexuals. As the old saying goes, you get what you get when you do what you do. And will continue doing so until we do something different. Something like confess that we have made a colossal mistake and take it all back, beginning with Obama, the Supreme Court, and the loss of humor. Amen.
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    Women should not be in combat. We don't need more laws. Individuals who are guilty of rape should be prosecuted under existing laws.
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    Absolutely. We can't brush this problem under the rug any longer.
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